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water harvesting

Harvesting the rain doesn’t stop at installing rain barrels, it involves the entire garden and its principal goal is to keep the water from running off the plot onto paved areas, only to eventually end up in the storm drains.

Careful planning can create places for the rain water to slow down enough to percolate into the soil, as well as ways to move it through the landscape and places for it to settle in. Depressed spots are not desirable features, since nobody wants to end up with a lawn full of puddles, so the water catchment area needs to blend naturally into the design and be populated with rain garden plants. Read more…

the home farming project

A while back I mentioned that a very small patch of dirt with good soil, sufficient water and at least eight hours of sunlight a day can produce a surprisingly large yield. Last year I didn’t measure the quantity of veggies, so this year I decided to start a little project. Read more…

urban beekeeping

On 07, Mar 2012 | No Comments | In innovation | By All Year Garden

For all bee keeping enthusiasts out there, here is a photo in anticipation of spring. Given the limitations of living in dense communities, not many of us can experience the joy of seeing the friendly industrious bees hard at work, although believe it or not, it can be done. Read more…

butterfly farming

On 08, Aug 2011 | No Comments | In innovation | By All Year Garden

Did you ever wonder where the butterflies from butterfly houses and butterfly gardens come from? A small group of farmers dedicate their efforts to raising them for conservatories, weddings, anniversaries and many other special events. Read more…

computerized greenhouse environmental controls

On 24, Jul 2011 | No Comments | In innovation | By All Year Garden

I was looking for greenhouse heating and cooling and I ran into this website about Greenhouse Climate Control Systems. It is unbelievable how an entire greenhouse operation can be completely automated, from temperature and humidity control to shade and louver operation, watering, fertilizing and residual water filtration.

A little wall mounted touch pad the size of a thermostat puts greenhouse environmental controls at your fingertips. Multiple computer programs allow for detailed customization of greenhouse operation.

green living walls

On 23, Jun 2011 | One Comment | In innovation | By All Year Garden

Most of us consider vine covered brick a living wall and wouldn’t conceive of the picture above if it wasn’t shown to us. While the green roof is an old but somewhat logical idea, (after all every urban dweller can see the benefits of creating a roof garden), planting a vertical wall is a gravity defining challenge for both architects and horticulturists. How do you keep the dirt from running off, the plants from growing scraggly and the water from infiltrating into the building? It is not easy, but it is possible. If you are curious about the typical structure of such planted walls, please check out the Biotecture website, for instance.

What are the benefits of living wall systems? For dense urban environments, processing of air pollutants and additional oxygenation alone would be enough, but add to this reduction in storm water runoff, heat island effect improvement (the living walls reflect only 20% of the absorbed heat), great insulating qualities, (especially related to heat loss due to convection) and overall air quality improvement and you got a winning combination.

For a scaled down, approachable and eminently residential version of the living wall system Meet Wolly, the “grow your plant in a pocket” wall mat.

These systems can be installed on any structurally sound wall and the type of plantings available is surprisingly broad. There you have it: if you run low on gardening space, please fill free to start planting the walls.

the happiest place on earth

On 04, Jan 2011 | One Comment | In innovation | By All Year Garden

Greetings and best wishes for the new year from the happiest place on earth – Disney World.

What does that have to do with gardening, you ask? Have you ever seen plants growing and bearing fruit completely suspended in the air, roots and all, pumpkins and eggplants hanging from trellises, like grapes, tomatoes growing on trees, nine pound lemons?

If you are ever at Epcot, don’t forget to visit the wonderful exhibit “Living with the Land”, a research lab where Disney and the Department of Agriculture push horticulture to the limit. For those who enjoyed the floating islands of Pandora, you might want to take a look at this: aeroponic growing systems. Water and nutrients are sprayed directly on the roots, no dirt required.

Aeroponics provides great ecological advantages through conservation of water and energy. An aeroponic system consumes one tenth of the water otherwise required to grow the plant and this amount can be further reduced to one twentieth. Additional oxygenation of  roots stimulates plant growth and prevents attacks from pathogens.  The aeroponic system allows plants full access to all the carbon dioxide available for photosynthesis.

Next time I start grouching about the soil not being all that I’ll stick this picture to my refrigerator and look at it.

If you would like to see more photos from Disney and not only, please check out All Year Garden’s photostream on Flickr

rain harvesting

On 19, Jun 2010 | No Comments | In innovation | By All Year Garden

As a rule of thumb, you can collect around 600 gallons of water per 1000sf of roof, per 1″ of rainfall.  Please check out this link for the average rainfall in your area.

US Weather
Average temperatures and rainfall in US cities.

It is wonderful to go for the largest rain barrel size that would maximize the amount of rainwater collected, however any size you can afford and accommodate is good. Also remember to get a rainwater collection system that is closed, so that plant material and insects don’ t collect inside, and use the collected water within a reasonable amount of time (as needed during the days following the rain), so that it doesn’t get a chance to get stale.

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